Alice arrives in the courtroom and finds the King and Queen of Hearts on their thrones, surrounded by a large crowd of animals and the whole deck of cards. The Knave lies chained before them. Alice surveys the room and takes great pleasure in identifying the various features of a court of law that she has read about. Alice notices that all of the jurors are writing down their own names, which the Gryphon explains that they all must do lest they forget their names before the trial’s end. Alice calls the jurors “stupid things,” and the jurors immediately write this down. She snatches a squeaking pencil out of the hand of the juror Bill, last seen as the servant of the White Rabbit, and he promptly begins writing with his finger.
The White Rabbit, serving the court as a herald, reads the accusation that the Knave of Hearts has stolen the Queen’s tarts. The Mad Hatter comes forth as the first witness, bearing a teacup and a piece of bread and butter. The King bids the Hatter remove his hat, but the Hatter refuses, explaining that he does not own the hats, he merely sells them. As Alice watches, she finds that she has started to grow again. The Dormouse becomes upset by Alice’s growth and storms off to the other side of the court to avoid being crushed by Alice. The Hatter delivers a bungled testimony, nervously suggesting that the March Hare said something. Before he can relate what the March Hare said, the Hare denies that he said something. The Hatter tries to explain that the Dormouse said something, but the Dormouse doesn’t reply because he has fallen fast asleep.
A juror asks the Hatter what it was the Dormouse said, but the Hatter cannot remember. The King insults the Hatter’s stupidity, which prompts a guinea pig to start cheering. The guinea pig is immediately “suppressed” by being tied up in a bag and sat on. Once the guinea pig has been suppressed, the King commands the Hatter to stand down. The Hatter replies that he can stand no lower, so the King bids him sit down. Another guinea pig begins cheering and is similarly suppressed. Finally, the King permits the Hatter to leave, and he sneaks off before the Queen has time to order one of the officers to chop off his head.
The King calls the Cook as the next witness. The King asks her what the tarts are made of, and the Cook replies “Pepper.” The Dormouse sleepily calls out the word “treacle,” and the courtroom flies into chaos. Amidst the frenzy, the Cook disappears. The King demands that the next witness be called, and the White Rabbit calls Alice to the stand.
Alice in Wonderland 9: Who Stole the Tarts? – Listen and Read
Chapter Nine of Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland by Lewis Carrol (abridged)
This Librivox Recording is in the Public Domain.
Chapter Nine – Who stole the tarts?
The King and Queen of Hearts were seated on their throne when they arrived, with a great crowd assembled about them — all sorts of little birds and beasts, as well as the whole pack of cards: the Knave was standing before them, in chains, with a soldier on each side to guard him; and near the King was the White Rabbit, with a trumpet in one hand and a scroll of parchment in the other. In the very middle of the court was a table, with a large dish of tarts upon it. “I wish they’d get the trial done,” Alice thought, “and hand ’round the refreshments!”
The judge, by the way, was the King and he wore his crown over his great wig. “That’s the jury-box,” thought Alice; “and those twelve creatures (some were animals and some were birds) I suppose they are the jurors.”
Just then the White Rabbit cried out “Silence in the court!”
“Herald, read the accusation!” said the King.
On this, the White Rabbit blew three blasts on the trumpet, then unrolled the parchment-scroll and read as follows:
“The Queen of Hearts, she made some tarts, All on a summer day; The Knave of Hearts, he stole those tarts And took them quite away!”
“Call the first witness,” said the King; and the White Rabbit blew three blasts on the trumpet and called out, “First witness!”
The first witness was the Hatter. He came in with a teacup in one hand and a piece of bread and butter in the other.
“You ought to have finished,” said the King. “When did you begin?”
The Hatter looked at the March Hare, who had followed him into the court, arm in arm with the Dormouse. “Fourteenth of March, I think it was,” he said.
“Give your evidence,” said the King, “and don’t be nervous, or I’ll have you executed on the spot.”
This did not seem to encourage the witness at all; he kept shifting from one foot to the other, looking uneasily at the Queen, and, in his confusion, he bit a large piece out of his teacup instead of the bread and butter.
Just at this moment Alice felt a very curious sensation — she was beginning to grow larger again.
The miserable Hatter dropped his teacup and bread and butter and went down on one knee. “I’m a poor man, Your Majesty,” he began.
“You’re a very poor speaker,” said the King.
“You may go,” said the King, and the Hatter hurriedly left the court.
“Call the next witness!” said the King.
The next witness was the Duchess’s cook. She carried the pepper-box in her hand and the people near the door began sneezing all at once.
“Give your evidence,” said the King.
“Sha’n’t,” said the cook.
The King looked anxiously at the White Rabbit, who said, in a low voice, “Your Majesty must cross-examine this witness.”
“Well, if I must, I must,” the King said. “What are tarts made of?”
“Pepper, mostly,” said the cook.
For some minutes the whole court was in confusion and by the time they had settled down again, the cook had disappeared.
“Never mind!” said the King, “call the next witness.”
Alice watched the White Rabbit as he fumbled over the list. Imagine her surprise when he read out, at the top of his shrill little voice, the name “Alice!”
Alice in Wonderland – Listen and Read
- Alice in Wonderland 1: Down the Rabbit-Hole – Listen and Read
- Alice in Wonderland 2: The Pool of Tears – Listen and Read
- Alice in Wonderland 3: A Caucus Race and a Long Tale – Listen and Read
- Alice in Wonderland 4: The Rabbit Sends in a Little Bill – Listen and Read
- Alice in Wonderland 5: Advice from a Caterpillar – Listen and Read
- Alice in Wonderland 6: Pig and Pepper – Listen and Read
- Alice in Wonderland 7: A Mad Tea Party – Listen and Read
- Alice in Wonderland 8: The Queen’s Croquet Ground – Listen and Read
- Alice in Wonderland 9: Who Stole the Tarts? – Listen and Read
- Alice in Wonderland 10: Alice’s Evidence – Listen and Read
A Christmas Carol – Listen and Read
- A Christmas Carol 1: Marley’s Ghost – Listen and Read
- A Christmas Carol 2: The First of the Three Spirits – Listen and Read
- A Christmas Carol 3: The Second of the Three Spirits – Listen and Read
- A Christmas Carol 4: The Last of the Spirits – Listen and Read
- A Christmas Carol 5: The End of It – Listen and Read
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- L3: Pride and Prejudice AudioBook
- L2: The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn Easy AudioBook
- L4: Fox News Sunday with transcript
- L4: Wait Wait… Don’t Tell Me!
- L4: Freakonomics Radio Podcast
- L2: VOA American Stories
- L3: Luke’s English Podcast
- L2: The Secret Garden AudioBook
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video: Listen and Read – Youtube
audio: LibriVox: Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland (dramatic reading)
transcript: Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland